Sebastian Vettel has expressed his confidence in Ferrari Formula 1 chief Maurizio Arrivabene amid speculation about the team principal’s future, calling him “a strong leader”.
Arrivabene took over as Ferrari team principal ahead of the 2015 season, and has led the Italian marque through its most successful campaign for almost a decade this year.
Despite having the fastest car heading into the season and Vettel taking four victories, a capitulation in the last six weeks has seen Ferrari drop out of the race for both F1 titles, with Lewis Hamilton set to win the drivers’ championship for Mercedes this weekend.
Ferrari’s failure to win its first title since 2008 this year has led to questions about Arrivabene’s future, but Vettel was quick to defend his team boss in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix.
“Look at the results, look at where Ferrari was after 2014, how competitive Ferrari was in 2014 and how – sorry to say – what miserable shape it was,” Vettel said.
“The spirit was down, so I think he’s the key person responsible for bringing most of that back and to make the team grow, to open things up, to change things that have been set like that for 20 years before that, just because they used to be like that.
“I think he has a very innovative and creative way of thinking. So I think he’s the right man, he’s a very strong leader, I think he’s well respected – I know he’s well respected by all the people.
“Absolutely I’m a fan. As I said, the most important thing is that if you look at the result, it’s coming. Obviously this year we would like it to be a bit different, especially towards the end but these things happen, we’re still growing and we set ourselves the target at the very beginning to grow and to do something new, something different and we’re still on that journey.
“Obviously the expectations are always high, you finish second in the championship, the year after you want to win, you don’t manage to do that but I think where we’ve gone, ’15 to ’16, especially through ’16 and then for ’17, things are going and heading the right way and he’s a key person in that.”